I want to close off the front of my Barile Grande just a little

Doing some cleanup work on some cracked mortar. I have been reading about closing the oven. I don’t want to close it off too much. What if i cut 2.5 inches off the fire brick and placed as shown in the picture (right side of oven)? I am thinking that would help with forcing the smoke up the chimney.
If this would work, any ideas on building a brace to keep the bricks in place while the mortar dries?

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Hi Norm,

Closing off the oven front is a great idea. I’m wondering if you’re overthinking it just a bit. There are clear instructions in the build manual for a basic closing.

So, yes, a shorter brick would work fine, but stand it on its side. (Flip the front of that brick up and you’ll have the idea.) The closure does not have to be thick, because there is not as much heat at the front, and your goal is to close off the top quarter of the arch, yes?

No brace is required if you follow the directions. What you do need is an angle iron, which is an “L”-shaped piece of metal that will make a bridge across the two legs that you are building at either side. It sits across the legs with its back to the oven. Once it is mortared in place, the actual closing bricks will rest on it forever.

I recommend closing off the front for most Barile ovens, unless you really, really need the full opening. As you say, it will help with smoke control and in general with heat retention provided you have a damper on your chimney kit. (Also highly recommended.)

Good luck and let us know how it comes out, Norm!

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Yes, i want to close off some of the top, but i sure do like the arch look of the original build. I do tend to over think the design, just want it to be amazing:)

Yup, it’s a “decisions, decisions” kind of thing. If you were to close it off but preserve the arch, in my opinion you would be simply making the opening smaller without controlling the smoke that much.

If you are really feeling good about the skills you learned so far, you may want to consider building the two side legs and using a thin, flexible piece of wood between them at the arch level. We have some folks who have done some amazing extended work like that, and their photos are in the Barile galleries.

Going that way means building an arc in small pieces (think “ends” of brick) and allowing it to set in place before you remove the form. Then you can build on top of that to fill out the front.

There would be a lot of cutting involved, but if your goal is “amazing,” it sounds like you’re motivated to do that.

Again in my opinion, more smoke will escape from an arched opening, but even if it is flat across there will always be a little smoke making its way out the front in the right conditions.

Hope this helps, Norm, and I’d be really happy to hear some guidance from others who have done something like this!

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Follow up question, following the build directions, would i use regular brick or fire brick (for closing the front)?

Good question. BWO recommends firebrick, but regular brick is acceptable. Use high-temp mortar mix; regular “S” mortar is marginally acceptable, but will break down over time. It’s the same reason that high-temp mortar is recommended for the brick hearth frame.

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Correct - Standard clay brick can be used to close off the front of your oven (try to stay away from concrete brick). Clay brick is fired / cured at high-temps so it is designed to withstand the heat cycle your oven creates. You still want to use Non-Water Soluble High-Temp mortar instead of standard concrete mortar as standard concrete mortar will breakdown under the numerous firings in your oven.

Just make sure any high-temp mortar you use is NON-WATER SOLUBLE as it is designed to withstand moisture / water contact. If you use a water soluble mortar, it will start to crumble.

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